Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Sewing Ruffles without a Ruffler Attachment

Sewing a ruffle can be frustrating, especially when working on a long strip of fabric. Traditionally you run a line of stitching on the edge to be gathered using a long stitch length, then you have to pull that thread up and get it all even and not break the thread. The following method works for ME----- and might not work for you, or need a tweak or two along the way, but it is certainly worth the effort to put this into your bag of tricks.
  • The following works on 100% cotton fabric, pre-washed to remove all sizing. My fabric is 100% cotton Kona muslin with a 200 thread count.
  • Thread is 100% polyester, mine is Coats and Clark
  • the sewing machine is set up with normal tension, longest stitch length, slightly more than 1/4" from the edge
  • I sew with a Bernina 180, you can see the stitching position set "two clicks" from center

  • LOWER tension: I bypassed the slot that feeds/tensions the bobbin thread entirely. I use a "pigtail" case (sometimes known as an embroidery bobbin case) and after bypassing the slot I ran the thread through the "pigtail" to guide. I have used a regular bobbin case with the same technique and the result is a slightly tighter gather in the ruffle.
  • Place the fabric to be ruffled under the pressure foot set at normal pressure and sew with gentle tension on the strip
  • The photo above shows the ruffled fabric straight out of the machine!
The ruffle pinned right onto the anchor fabric---- no pulling needed! (Now if you need a super tight ruffle, you might need to pull that thread a bit but it is much easier!)
  • The technique applies when ruffling a single layer or a double layer (shown above). A double layer will be slightly less gathered because of the second layer of fabric coming through the machine.

  • Results will vary depending on the weight and fiber content of the fabric, experiment first!
I hope you're inspired to ruffle something--- at least get out your machine and putter around!

Don't forget to re-thread your bobbin case before you sew a regular seam or you'll be unhappily surprised!

1 comment:

Deb said...

When I need to ruffle a long piece of fabric or a heavy fabric, I zig zag over a piece of crochet cotton. The zig zag stitch makes a casing over the crochet cotton and the crochet cotton is a heavier thread to pull.

We used this trick when we were making costumes for Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and it worked great!